Emile Durkheim and Social Solidarity

The ultimate goal of a person who has abusive tendencies is to gain control over another person, be it a spouse, friend, sibling, child, employee, or others. Types of abuse include economic, sexual, emotional, intimidation, denying and blaming, using children, isolation, spiritual abuse, using male and other priveleges and threats.

Verbal abuse falls under emotional abuse, which consists of attempting to make the victim feel bad about the self, manipulating others to turn against the victim, making the person think that they are crazy, making fun, holding grudges, humiliation, and suborning guilty feelings. It can be said that verbal abuse is the communication tool that is needed and used to carry out most emotional abuse.

Verbal abuse that originates in mental disorder, specific hostility toward an enemy, temporary upset or rage, or an environment where people play “The dozens” for fun is not included here.

Verbal abuse is the indicator of the onset of an abusive personal and usually familial or romantic relationship that can and usually does escalate to physical and other violence against the target or victim. Verbal abuse occurs when words are said that are intended to induce feelings of hurt, low self esteem, inability to make decisions or to act properly without the control, advice or involvement of the other. One constant bit of carping is the “you always” comment, where the victim is accused of constantly exhibiting a negative tendency or problem when no such problem exists.

Dominating the conversation is a form of verbal abuse that sends a message where the victim is not to do any talking about any subject. In the worst cases, anytime the victim attempts to speak, they are interrupted and the controlling person or persons go into talking jags. This is the “You are to be seen, to listen and to not be heard” form of controlling verbal abuse. 

When confronted about interrupting and taking over the conversation, the abuser escalates to excuses that are actually attacks in the form of denegrating the victim’s education, knowledge, perspective or understandings of the topic, or claiming that they are wrong or crazy. In some cases, the abuser reverts to irrational and childish denial, claiming that a person does not even know enough about their own profession, accomplishments or life experiences to be allowed to speak.

Dominating the conversation, if successful, is a powerful form of control over an individual as it completely takes away the rights of the person to speak, have a perspective on a matter, have expertise on a matter, or to speak for themself and on their own behalf. One major trigger of physical violence or escalating bullying and threat, is the victim confronting the bully and demanding the right to speak.

The progression of abuse often begins with control impulses that are intended to isolate the victim from society, including friends, family and even co workers and others over whom the abuser has no control. Using verbal abuse as a tool to isolate the victim and to increase control is a tool that comes in many forms. In marriages or romantic relationships, the verbal abuse comes in the forms of wild and blind accusations of infidelity with others who are in the wider social sphere where the abuser cannot go.

In other cases of isolation verbal abuse, the attacks on the character, likeability or value of friends, family or others becomes more aggressive, vicious, and obsessive. The victim, personally is being convinced that there is something “wrong” with everyone except. Or, the victim is attacked for making bad choices in who is allowed to compete with the abuser for attention.

The most sophisiticated and insidious forms of this abuse/control/isolation mechanism is to engage in charismatic, glib lying and manipulation of one or many in order to end the victim’s established relationships or to ensure that budding relationships do not come to fruition. In some cases, the victim is falsely reported to be crazy, have substance abuse or to have other problems in order to cause others to reject the victims friendship or to end relationships. Law enforcement and the courts are beleagured by charming, glib and convincing abusers who verbally attack either their victims or their friends, rather than to take responsibility for their own misconduct.

The control/verbal abuse mechanisms can continue to escalate into a form of a cult like processing or Stockholm syndrome affair, where the abuser places intensive and obsessive attention on the victim. The controller in extreme cases can even become the source of all facts and authority in all matters, leaving the victim open to complete control through verbal manipulation, threats, and convincing claims.

After a certain point, the victim is helpless to think for him or herself and begins to tolerate the physical violence and other, more alarming behavior as they come to believe that there is no other rightheous or reasonable option in life.

The tendency is to confine all discussions of abuse to romantic or marital relationships. It is highly important to pay attention to work, parent/child, eldercare, school, sibling and other relationships where individuals are attempting to control others through verbal abuse.

As a result, more attention should be paid to siblings who pick up the tactics of verbal abuse in early childhood, to couples who are establishing new relationships, and to established relationships that are changing into forms where one party is changing to controlling behavior through the use of verbal abuse tactics.